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Report notes that Chicago police allowed looting in Bronzeville during George Floyd protests

Chicago Police Department

Chicago police allowed looting in a Bronzeville neighborhood as the city’s downtown received more attention during violent protests after the murder of George Floyd in 2020, according to a major report by the Independent Monitoring Team. The group documents the progress of CPD compliance of the ongoing consent decree.

But the 464-word report released July 20 largely focuses on looting and clashes in the Loop and Grant Park. The report spends little time examining why police allowed widespread looting in neighborhoods on the South and West sides.

On page 74, the report mentions that on Sunday, May 31, 2020, “unrest began to spread to Chicago’s neighborhoods” and that “looting occurred at a number of stores on 47th Street (between Michigan Avenue and Martin Luther King Drive). One community member noted that officers were just ‘standing there’ as people looted a liquor store, a clothing store, and other businesses.”

The Independent Monitoring Team in its report said the city and CPD were “unprepared for the level of sustained protests and unrest” that occurred in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last year.

“The City and CPD must take immediate, deliberate, and transparent efforts — in compliance with the Consent Decree — to better protect, serve, and be accountable to the people of Chicago and all communities,” independent monitor Maggie Hickey said in a statement.

Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, who kneeled on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes. Last month, Chauvin was sentenced to 22.5 years of prison after he was convicted of second-degree manslaughter, second-degree unintentional murder and third-degree murder. Chicago was among many cities across the country and world rocked by protests after Floyd’s murder. In the Loop, Grant Park and along Michigan Avenue, violent clashes occurred between police and protesters.

The report said there were also an “unprecedented number” of complaints to the Civilian Office of Police Accountability about officers using excessive force. The complaints include racial or homophobic slurs and officers covering their badges and name plates to avoid identification.

During a listening session with the monitoring team last year, one speaker said, “No one who says they protect and serve and then turn around to beat and pepper spray people can expect me to believe them.”

The report also said that “many officers were not deployed with body-worn cameras, due to the deployment strategy employed by the CPD, which required officers to report to a central mobilization center without first retrieving their equipment—including their radios and body-worn cameras—from their districts.”

According to the report, even if city and CPD officials had predicted how widespread the protests and unrest would be, they lacked the proper procedures and training necessary to handle them properly.

The monitoring team made more than a dozen recommendations for future changes, which include: expanding planning operations to include internal and external partners; creating and training specialized “Mobile Field Force Teams” across the city; improving officer wellness and support; updating CPD policies on use of force, First Amendment protections and mass arrests; and improving transparency around officer discipline.

The CPD in a statement said it has reviewed the report and previously identified many of the same areas for improvement — such as operational planning, intelligence gathering, community engagement, training, accountability and officer wellness — following an internal after-action report last summer.

“We will continue to review procedures and strategies used in these large-scale responses to ensure accountability at every level of the Department,” the CPD said in its statement.

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